Orcas Island Historical Museum Programs
Four Traveling Trunks sent to classrooms and early-childhood organizations each year. First Peoples, Salmon and Early Fishing, Island History/Homesteads, and Health and Medicine are the themes of the four trunks, which are filled with artifacts, graphics, laminated visuals, and other hands-on material for use by teachers and students. Upon request, Docents are provided to assist with interpretation.
The Society and Museum engage Seniors in our Oral History Project, interviewing and transcribing their unique personal stories and memories of island life. Written narratives are maintained in separate binders for each person interviewed, and photographs of each person adorn the walls of the cabin devoted to the Project. This Project is a continuing effort of the museum that is expanded and further developed each year.
Museum tours are offered to all classes in our local schools, pre-schools, early childhood educational organizations, the Senior Center, Elderhostel tours, and other organizations. Monthly History Corner articles are written by volunteers for publication in our local community newspapers. A joint website of the three county museums (Orcas, Lopez, and San Juan Islands) was developed and implemented this year.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
We successfully applied for a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibit "Journey Stories" which was on display in our museum from July 17th through August 29th, 2010. Ours is the smallest, by far, of the six Washington State museums selected to host this exhibit in 2010. In 2006 we successfully applied for a Save America's Treasures Grant from the National Park Service of $100,000. This grant gave us the funds necessary to properly preserve our collection for the first time since our founding.
The skull and bones of a prehistoric Bison Antiquus were discovered at Ayer's Pond on Orcas Island a few years ago. These specimens are in excellent condition and have been carbon dated to nearly 14,000 years old. Discover Magazine named this find as #10 of the top 100 science discoveries of 2008 - worldwide. The collection of bones have been gifted to the museum but remain in archival storage until we find the means to have them cast and properly displayed.